Track and Field

Cast your mind back to 1983, CD’s had only just been introduced, the NES went on sale in Japan, and the last ever episode of M.A.S.H was aired, I of course can’t remember any of these, as I wasn’t even born.

I imagine if you had told anyone within the gaming world that twenty years later one of the biggest selling games on the market would be based on getting people fit I’d imagine they would have laughed and remarked about how we’d be playing virtual reality titles while conducting space walks from our moon base.

Thankfully in between planning their lunar allotments and virtual reality suits Konami released a game titled Track and Field hitting arcades first and then moving on to a number of home consoles such as the ZX Spectrum and the NES.

Thankfully, those of us that weren’t around those many years ago have been given a bit of a history lesson due to the games appearance on Live Arcade, gentleman, ladies prepare your fingers and thumbs, for by the end they will hurt.

See the idea behind Track and Field is simple; you control an athlete using a series of button presses to run while using the action button to tell him when to perform the required action based on your current event. Progress through the game is made by completing each event by meeting each qualifying grade.

First up is the 100m Dash, which is a good introduction into the game, or how I’d like to think, a good warm up for your fingers. The faster you hit the run buttons (alternating) the faster your little bloke on the screen runs, of course, the faster you press the buttons, the more tired you get and this is what separates the men from the boys, the difference between a 2nd and 1st place could very well rely on you to keep up the finger stamina.

Should you bypass the 100m Dash with your fingers in one piece, next up is the Long Jump, which introduces the action button. In similar fashion to the previous event you begin by hitting the run buttons as fast as your fingers can handle then at the optimum time hit the action button and keep it held to set the angle of your jump, if you time it right you’ll get to have a bit of a breather as you watch your athlete fly into the sand pit in slow motion.

I never did like Long Jump much, which is probably caused by my dislike of sand so up next is more my kind of thing, the Javelin. Using the same method as the Long Jump previously, you send you athlete belting it towards the foul line and then when the moment is perfect you strike,  launching the Javelin as far as possible while hoping the angle you set would ensure your throw ends up over the qualifying target.

By now your fingers will have taken quite a beating, but there’s no time to rest your tired digits in miniature buckets of ice, for the 110m hurdles is up next, which sees you carrying on with the run as fast as you can method, while hitting the action button at the correct time to ensure you safely pass over the hurdles with no damage to your shin.

Should you make it this far you can now safely rest a bit as the Hammer throw requires no button mashing involved, bliss!  Instead you are simply required to time the throw of the ball and chain. The longer you leave it the faster your on screen version of Daley Thompson will spin, meaning you get more distance but it becomes increasingly hard to time the throw, so is best to look for some compromise between speed and accuracy.

Last up is the High Jump, which despite being a bit more tricky than the other events is still good fun once you get the hang of it, although until that point if you’re like me you’ll just be sat with a face of thunder staring at the TV in disgust as once again your athlete fails to take note of the “jump over the bar” theory behind the event.

Should you qualify for each event, the game will then give you the chance to go through the events again but this time with qualifying targets that are more difficult to achieve.

Of course, what makes Track and Field even more great is the ability to play with up to three friends over Xbox Live, even more fun when you throw in some voice chat so you can listen to your friendly combatants push their controllers to the upmost limits and gnarling in agony as cramp sets in to their fingers, this is one that is definitely made for multiplayer.

When you also throw in some updated visuals to the mix it soon becomes apparent that Track and Field would make a good addition to anyone’s Arcade collection, a game that despite being twenty years old is still a bucket load of fun.







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